Là-bas, a Gomorra of the black community
by Camillo de Marco
- Guido Lombardi's excellent debut, awarded at the Venice Film Festival 2011, and the future projects of a young, talented and brave author.
March 9 saw the arrival in cinemas, in 15 copies distributed by the Luce-Cinecittà, of Là-bas, A Criminal Education [+see also:
interview: Guido Lombardi
film profile], first work by in Guido Lombardi, who has been awarded with the Lion of the Future and the Kino Audience Award at the International Critics Week of the Venice Film Festival 2011, and the Flash Forward Award at the 16th Busan Festival, South Korea, Asia’s most important film event.
Là-bas tells the story of the massacre of Castel Volturno, 30 km from Naples, where six black immigrants were killed on September 18, 2008, by a group of secessionists from the Casalesi clan. Produced by Dario Formisano’s Eskimo, by Gianluca Curti’s Minerva Pictures Group and by Gaetano Di Vaio and Pietro Pizzimento’s
The film follows Yussouf (Kader Alassane), a young black immigrant who has just arrived to Italy. "The main question this film asks – the director, Guido Lombardi, reflects - concerns the crossroads faced by people in difficulty; how easy is it to opt for criminality when your life conditions are so tragic? Then I wanted to abandon the usual ‘holier-than-thou’ approach towards Africans, and talk about this problem. By means of a very specific story, I hoped to be able to talk about a universal situation – that of those who, setting off with little money, want to change their lives".
Cineuropa: The film was, however, conceived before the massacre that took place in what Roberto Saviano, the author of "Gomorra", defined as the "most African of European cities".
Guido Lombardi: The story of the film was conceived three or four years before the tragic event that took place in the Castel Volturno, but then reality overtook fantasy. When we heard about what had happened, we decided, together with the producers, that we couldn’t put it in the film. In fact, the film was born thanks to the intuition of Kader Alassane himself, who had already had a part in one of my shorts and years ago used to organised parties for Africans on the Domizio waterfront: they would call me to film them, then one day he suggested the idea of making a film that would tackle the difficult situation faced by African immigrants.
The film contains French, English and the dialect of Campania. Did you think about the difficulties this might pose for the Italian market?
From my point of view it’s what one might call a ‘suicidal’ film: shot in three different languages, with non-professional black actors, which talks about immigrants. But this was needed in order to tell the truth. Besides, recently two important films have been distributed which have subtitles, Gomorra [+see also:
interview: Domenico Procacci
interview: Jean Labadie
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile] and Il vento fa il suo giro [+see also:
Là-bas had its market première in February at the Berlin EFM and was bought for distribution in Australia, while the French are interested in coproducing your next project. Can you tell us about it?
My next film will be called Take Five, and will have the same Italian producers as for Là-bas. About three years ago, together with Gaetano Di Vaio, we were thinking of a good story to make with a restrained budget. The film will be set in a single room, the hideout of five kidnappers who are shut in there arguing about something that went wrong. The actors, other than Gaetano himself (who features in Là-bas), Peppe Lanzetta and Salvatore Ruocco, will be ex-convicts Carmine Paternoster and Salvatore Striano, stars of Caesar Must Die [+see also:
interview: Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
film profile] by the Taviani brothers.